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Georgetown Loop Railroad 7/11/2016

by Chris Guenzler

From the Tiny Town Railroad we drove to our next stop at Central City.

Colorado & Southern 2-8-0 71.

Colorado & Southern combine 20. We then drove to Blackhawk.

Colorado Central 2-8-0 71. We next drove to Idaho Springs.

Colorado & Southern 2-8-0 60.

Colorado & Southern passenger car. From here we drove to Georgetown and parked at the east end of the railroad's parking lot. We walked down the bike trail under the trestle and took a trail to the prime photography spot here and waited.

The Devil's Gate Viaduct. Now we will watch a train cross this unique bridge.

The train crossed the Devil's Gate Viaduct.

The Georgetown Loop historical marker.

One last view of the Devil's Gate Viaduct. We drove to Silver Plume and picked up our tickets.

Georgetown Loop Railroad History

The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a 3 ft narrow gauge heritage railroad located in the Rocky Mountains in Clear Creek County, Colorado, in the United States. The railroad operates summer tourist trains between the communities of Georgetown and Silver Plume, a distance of 2 miles. The railroad route is 4.5 miles long and ascends an elevation of 640 feet through mountainous terrain along with trestles, cuts, fills, and a grand loop.

The Georgetown Loop Railroad was one of Colorado's first visitor attractions. This spectacular stretch of 3 foot narrow gauge railroad was completed in 1884 and considered an engineering marvel for its time. The thriving mining towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume lie 2 miles apart in the steep, narrow canyon of Clear Creek in the Rocky Mountains west of Denver. Engineers designed a corkscrew route that traveled nearly twice that distance to connect them, slowly gaining more than 600 feet in elevation. The route included horseshoe curves, grades of up to 4%, and four bridges across Clear Creek, including the massive Devil's Gate High Bridge.

The Georgetown, Breckenridge, and Leadville Railroad had been formed in 1881 under the Union Pacific Railroad. The Loop portion of the line was the crowning segment of the line, crossing the top of the gorge on a 95-foot high trestle.

Originally part of the larger line of the Colorado Central Railroad constructed in the 1870s and 1880s, in the wake of the Colorado Gold Rush, this line was also used extensively during the silver boom of the 1880s to haul silver ore from the mines at Silver Plume. In 1893, the Colorado and Southern Railway took over the line and operated it for passengers and freight until 1938. The line was later dismantled, but was restored in the 1980s to operate during summer months as a tourist railroad, carrying passengers using historic 3 foot narrow gauge steam locomotives.


In 1959, the centennial year of the discovery of gold in Georgetown, the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad Park was formed by the Colorado Historical Society. The Colorado Historical Society's chairman negotiated a donation of mining claims and mills, and nearly 100 acres of land.

Interest in restoration of the Loop segment as a tourist attraction in the 1970s led to reopening of the segment. Rail line construction began in 1973 with track and ties donated by the Union Pacific Railroad, and a new high bridge was built. The 3-milerestored segment, opened on March 10, 1984, is at the upper end of the historic Colorado Central main line up Clear Creek Canyon west of Golden. The Georgetown Loop Railroad climbs approximately 640 feet between the two towns using 3 miles of track. Passengers can board the train at depots located in Silver Plume and Devils Gate 3/4 of a mile west of Georgetown.

The train ride includes an optional walking tour of the Lebanon Silver Mine, located at the halfway point on the railroad, where visitors can walk 500 feet (150 m) into a mine tunnel bored in the 1870s, with guides pointing out once-rich veins of silver and relating the history of the mine.

Our Visit and Ride

We first went to the museum.

Georgetown Loop Baldwin 2-6-2 4 built in 1912 for the Klondike Mines RY in the Yukon Territory, Canada.

Narrow Gauge speeder.

Colorado & Southern business car.

Colorado & Southern coach 76.

Colorado & Southern Railway Post Office/Baggage car 13.

Silver Plume scene.

A narrow gauge switcher.

D&RGW refrigerator car 153.

A Silver Plume scene.

Silver Plume station.

Georgetown Loop coach Clear Creek 282.

Georgetown Loop coach Argentine 284.

A Silver Plume scene.

The Argentine Central Railroad plaque.

The train pulled into the Silver Plume station and after the passengers detrained, we boarded the train. This is Robin's first trip on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. We sat in a covered open air car for our trip.

Silver mine trailings on Republic Mountain.

Georgetown Loop diesel 140. Now let us enjoy a trip on this unique railroad.

We start off by descending through the forest.

The train rounds the Big Fill.

Passengers get their first view of the Devil's Gate Viaduct.

The train is descending to the first crossing of Clear Creek.

The train crossed Clear Creek.

The train ran by the stone retaining wall.

The train made the Mine Tour stop.

The train crossed Clear Creek for the second time.

Looking down on a mining camp.

The train rolled down the grade through the forset. Here came the most spectacular point on this railroad, the crossing of the Devil's Gate Viaduct.

The train crossed the Devil's Gate Viaduct and Robin was totally impressed as was I.

The train has reversed direction and headed down grade.

The train crossed Clear Creek for the final time on this eastbound trip.

The train made the final turn into the Devil's Gate station. Here passengers get off the train and new ones get on.

Our engine will now run around the train. Once that is complete, the train will be shoved east to complete the Georgetown Loop.

We have now completed the Georgetown Loop and would head back up the grade to Silver Plume.

Passing beneath the Devil's Gate Viaduct.

I took this picture on the climb back to the Devil's Gate Viaduct. Next we crossed the Devil's Gate Viaduct for the last time today.

Our train returned across the Devil's Gate Viaduct.

D&RGW box car 3582.

Our train takes the High Fill.

Westside Lumber Company three truck Shay 9.

One last look at our locomotive. A special thank you to the Georgetown Loop Railroad for having us here today. We drove back to Georgetown.

The Georgetown Colorado & Southern station. From here we drove to the Super 8 Motel in Westminster and had dinner at the Perkins Restaurant next door. I worked on stories before calling it a night.